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April 05, 2024

What is parental child abduction?

What is parental child abduction?

Date updated:
What is parental child abduction?

The Children Act 1989 provides that “parental responsibility” means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property.

If one parent seeks to take their child abroad, they must first obtain permission from all parties with parental responsibility. Permission would be best obtained in writing i.e. email or letter.

1. Prohibited Steps Order: this can be issued without notice on the other parent. However, it’s worth noting that the other parent may leave the UK (should they become aware of the order) ahead of it being made. It’s worth assessing the risk of a parent leaving the UK when deciding if an order is appropriate.

2. What is the process for a Prohibited Steps Order?

The Court would hear the ‘without notice’ application in the first instance and, if successful, the other parent would be served with the Prohibited Steps Order (PSO) before being invited to a return hearing to have their say. The Court can also order that the other parent provides their solicitor or the other parent’s solicitor with the child’s passport until such a time that the Court feels necessary.

3. What are the penalties for breaching a PSO?

Breach of a PSO is contempt of court and, as such, there are a number of consequences such as a fine or imprisonment.

4. What should I do if I feel parental child abduction is imminent?

If you believe your child is likely to be taken out of the UK within 48 hours, the police can contact the National Boarder Targeting Centre and ask them to issue a port alert for all points of departure from the UK. 

5. Contact the passport office.

If your child does not already have a UK passport the passport office may be able to prevent the other parent from obtaining one for your child. You can call 0300 222 000 or contact HMPO here

6. Keep your child’s passport in a safe place.

Contact the Identity and Passport Service (and relevant local embassy, high commission or consulate if your child has dual nationality) to request that they do not issue a passport for your child without your permission.

1. Contact the police immediately. 

2. Contact the Child Abduction Section at the Foreign Office on 0207 008 0878.

3. Issue an application under The Hague Convention: if your child has been taken to a country signed up to the convention an application will need to be made by completing the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit form, which can be found here.

If your child has been taken to a country that is not signed up to the convention, referred to above, then you will need to try a different route and it would be advisable to seek legal advice.

If you have any uncertainty regarding parental child abduction and need further advice, please do not hesitate to contact Stone King LLP on 01225 337 599.